Press Release

RNs Commend House Hearing on Preventing Workplace Violence in Health Care, Social Service Settings

federal workplace violence prevention bill

Hearing important step forward for federal workplace violence prevention bill, say nurses

For interviews with NNU nurses about workplace violence, call: Kari Jones, 510-433-2759

The House Committee on Education and Labor will be holding a hearing Wednesday, Feb. 27 on protecting health care and social workers from workplace violence—a move nurses say is an important step in advancing the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR 1309), recently re-introduced by Representative Joe Courtney (CT-2).

“Nurses are heartened that the House Committee on Education and Labor is holding a hearing on this critical subject, given that violence against health care and social service workers has reached epidemic proportions,” said National Nurses United (NNU) Copresident Jean Ross, RN. “Rep. Courtney’s bill mandates that all health care workplaces must have a comprehensive, unit-specific plan in place to prevent violence before it occurs. We urge representatives to support this urgent legislation, before one more worker, patient, family member or visitor becomes a victim of health care workplace violence, which impacts everyone in the vicinity.”

“Health care and social service workers face a disproportionate amount of violence at work, and the data shows that these incidents are on the rise. Safety experts, employees, and members of Congress have been pressing OSHA to address this outsized risk of violence for years, but have seen no meaningful action,” said Rep. Courtney, who points out that this week’s hearing ensures that the recently introduced bill is “finally poised to move, and not just sit on the shelf.”

What: Caring for Our Caregivers: Protecting Health Care and Social Service Workers from Workplace violence”

When: Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 2 p.m.

Where: 2175 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515


“This legislation is the result of a five-year process to build the foundation for long overdue change to protect America’s caring professions, and would require OSHA to issue a Workplace Violence Prevention Standard, giving workers the security that their employers are implementing proven practices to reduce the risk of violence on the job,” said Courtney.

The bill, introduced with the support of 26 other members of Congress would mandate that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) create a national standard requiring health care and social service employers to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan. This legislation is especially important given that healthcare and social service workers face extremely high rates of workplace violence.

The legislation follows the adoption by California OSHA of a groundbreaking health care workplace violence standard that was the result of state legislation sponsored by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act Overview

  • Addresses an epidemic of violence: Workers in the health care and social assistance industry face extremely high rates of workplace violence. Between 2011 and 2016, as reported in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, at least 58 hospital workers died as a result of violence in their workplaces. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office found that health care workers at inpatient facilities were 5 to 12 times more likely to experience nonfatal workplace violence than workers overall.
  • Requires federal OSHA to create a federal workplace violence prevention standard mandating employers develop comprehensive, workplace-specific plans to prevent violence before it happens.
  • Covers a wide variety of workplaces, including hospitals, residential treatment facilities, non-residential treatment settings, medical treatment or social service settings in correctional or detention facilities, psychiatric treatment facilities, substance use disorder treatment centers, community care settings such as group homes and mental health clinics, and federal health care facilities such as those operated by the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service, as well as field work settings such as home care and home-based hospice, and emergency services and transport services.
  • Sets a quick timeline on implementation to ensure timely protection for healthcare workers.
  • Sets minimum requirements for the standard and for employers’ workplace violence prevention plans, based on the groundbreaking California legislation. These requirements include unit-specific assessments and implementation of prevention measures, including physical changes to the environment, staffing for patient care and security, employee involvement in all steps of the plan, hands on training, robust record keeping requirements including a violent incident log, protections for employees to report WPV to their employer and law enforcement, among other requirements.

“We know that violence can be prevented when employers establish plans that are tailored to fit the risks at each workplace and each patient care unit with the input of nurses and other workers at the bedside,” said Ross. “Nurses look forward to working with Congress on the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, and we encourage every Representative to cosponsor this legislation.”